North Carolina High School Athletic Association

NCHSAA announces Toby Webb Coach of the Year Award recipients

CHAPEL HILL – The North Carolina High School Athletic Association is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2016 Toby Webb Coach of the Year Awards. The Toby Webb award recognizes two coaches annually, one male and one female.

Darlene Joyner from Northwest Guilford High School is the female recipient while Johnny Sowell of Monroe High School is the winner on the male side.

Since 2006, the Toby Webb Coach of the Year Award seeks to recognize and honor coaches who have had an impact on the lives of student-athletes, and students in general, by encouraging them to succeed, helping to develop self-confidence, ambition, a sound work ethic, and other skills necessary for success in the students’ later lives. Consideration is also taken for coaches with a record of encouraging student-athletes to be well-rounded and display excellence in the areas of scholarship, citizenship, and music among many others.

Darlene Joyner, who recently announced she would be retiring in May, led the Vikings women’s basketball and volleyball teams to Regional Championships and appearances in the 4A State Championship games in both respective sports. She has coached Volleyball for 22 years, Basketball for 13 and Softball for 10.

Joyner has piloted basketball teams to 281 wins in her time at Northwest Guilford. She helped the Vikings to back-to-back undefeated regular seasons in the last two years and appearances in the regional finals in both seasons. In volleyball, she is responsible for a 500-101 record including 20 conference championships in a career that saw her teams win 16 consecutive conference crowns.

Northwest Guilford Athletic Director John Hughes said of Joyner, “She is someone who other teachers and coaches not only respect for her success, but ask for advice and councsel. She is a fabulous mentor to the younger teachers and coaches at Northwest High. The veteran coaches rely on her as a trusted colleague who has a lot of wisdom and experience to share.”

One of her former players, Caroline Wells, described Joyner as a part of her family saying that after their final game of the season, “We seniors weren’t crying just because we had lost, we were crying because it meant we wouldn’t have Coach Joyner on our bench anymore. We cried because our season was over; but we all realized that night that we were losing more than a team or jersey. We were losing our coach, our friend and our safety net.”

Johnny Sowell led the Monroe Red Hawks to this year’s 2A State Championship and an undefeated season. He has coached basketball for 25 years, track for 22 and football as a head coach for 11 seasons. His teams have won state championships in each of the three sports he has overseen during his time at Monroe.

Sowell broke the 400 win mark in basketball, needing only 20 years as head coach to achieve that mark. He has been named Conference coach of the year 11 times in basketball, seven times in track and three times in football. He is recognized in the community, not just as a coach, but as a mentor and father figure to many kids in the community, not just his own students at Monroe High.

Sowell’s Athletic Director Tim Niedermeier told the awards committee, “ Coach Sowell, by far, has the biggest impact on the youth of our school, over anyone elese I have worked with.” He went on to add, “He is caring, loving, disciplined and tough with all of his kids. The day Coach Sowell decides to hang up his whistle will be a sad day for all of Monroe.”

A student turned co-worker of Sowell’s, Leroy Osborne, now Monroe’s Women’s basketball coach and baseball coach said, “Coach Sowell’s dedication to the City of Monroe and all of the youth that have walked through the halls of Monroe High School, including myself, is second to none. Not only did Coach Sowell give me the discipline I needed, but he also showed me how much he cared about me as a person.”

Osborne goes on to describe how Sowell dismissed him from the team for too many absences, saying that little did he know that would “change his life forever by showing me that when you commit to something it means fully.” He continues by saying, “That lesson, alone, is why I am proud to tell anyone, anywhere, that if it wasn’t for Coach Johnny Sowell, all of my accomplishments, since then, are because Johnny Sowell showed me he cared more about me than the game.”

Each recipient of the Toby Webb Coach of the Year Award is recognized at the NCHSAA’s Annual Meeting in Chapel Hill. They also receive a $2,000 cash award and a commemorative plaque.


2006 – Hal Capps, Western Alamance & Carolyn Rogers, Perquimans

2007 – Patty Evers, East Bladen & Mickey Lineberger, South Point

2008 – Cindi Simmons, Smoky Mountain & Tom Evaul, Avery County

2009 – Vickie Peoples, Enloe & Norman Trzaskoma, R.J. Reynolds

2010 – Debra Philyaw, Jones & John Moon, Eastern Alamance

2011 – Zoe Bell, Ardrey Kell & Ray Horton, Pender

2012 – Sherry Norris, Chapel Hill & Terry Frazier, Roanoke Rapids

2013 – Sandra Martin, Providence & Eddie Rivers, Forest Hills

2014 – Wendy Gaines, Triton & Michael Gainey, Rocky Mount

2015 -Scott Braswell, Hoggard & Natalie Tribble, North Iredell